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Placemaking as economic development engine

Earlier this year, the first phase of The Underline opened up in Miami’s Brickell neighborhood. Designed by James Corner Field Operations, The Underline is an eventual 10-mile linear park that will live underneath the city’s elevated Metrorail and run from the Miami River all the way south to Dadeland South Station.

The first phase — called Brickell Backyard — is the shortest phase at only 0.5 miles. But it cuts through one of the densest parts of the city, if not the densest. Total construction costs for this phase came in at $16.524 million and here’s where that funding came from (source is The Underline):

$7,688,760 Miami-Dade County
$1,944,000 FDOT TAP Grant
$2,000,000 State of Florida
$4,871,690 City of Miami
$19,808 FDOT

The Underline is clearly looking to the example of New York’s High Line, which was also designed by Field Operations. And for good reason: The High Line is a shining example of placemaking as economic development engine.

The first two phases of The High Line cost around $153 million to construct. But as of 2014 (when I wrote about it here) it was already attracting some 5 million visitors a year and was believed to be responsible for about $2.2 billion in new economic activity. I’m sure the numbers are much higher today.

As city builders, we are always looking for ways to create value and spur economic development. But it’s perhaps important to keep in mind that the underlying goal isn’t all that complicated: Create cool places where people want to be.

Images: The Underline

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